Ignorance — however well meant it may be — can be pretty dangerous, especially when it comes to issues of diversity inside agencies. That’s the view of an advertising executive we interviewed in the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we grant anonymity in exchange for candor. The more this executive was asked to “help bring diversity to the room” by their bosses, the more they realized that being the only black person in the room isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Excerpts are lightly edited for clarity.

Was working at an agency as diverse and progressive as you thought it was going to be?
Once I’d settled there, it was obvious that there weren’t many people like me in places like this. The agency was progressive in how they tackled briefs, but that didn’t stretch to their own people. The team there often wanted me to provide insight into black culture because of the way I looked. I found that I was being regularly pulled into meetings and onto projects that called for greater diversity because my bosses thought “what better way to show we’re diverse than by having a black person in the room” — nobody said that openly, but that’s how I felt.

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